Inven2 is the biggest technology transfer office (TTO) in Norway, which means that we are responsible for assessing and commercialising innovative research conducted at the University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital and the health trusts under South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority – i.e. our owners.

Ole Kristian Hjelstuen fra Inven2

Photo: Moment Foto

In 2019, my 31-strong staff and I worked hard to live up to this responsibility, as we have done now for almost ten years. Our efforts certainly bore fruit in 2019:

The value of our portfolio, based on 51 companies, increased sharply ending at NOK 12.5 billion. All of these companies have emerged through the work of outstanding researchers employed at our owner institutions. The companies are attractive investment opportunities: More than NOK 1.2 billion in private funding was invested in the companies in 2019. At the same time, NOK 40 million was ploughed back into research at our owner institutions to generate more knowledge.

Highlighting the work of individual researchers among all those who submit their ideas to us is no easy matter, but I would like to mention three of them. The first is Professor Johanna Olweus who is developing targeted immunotherapy based on advanced cellular and gene therapy where she uses T cell receptors, known as TCR therapy. In December 2019, she was awarded one of the most prestigious research grants in Europe, a Consolidator Grant of NOK 20 million.

The other two researchers are professor and physicist Atle Bjørnerud, who currently works at Oslo University Hospital, and nuclear chemist Bent Wilhelm Shoultz of the University of Oslo. Bjørnerud and Shoultz have long cooperated with established businesses, NordicNeuroLab and the Cyclotron Centre respectively. While their research is very different, they both make significant contributions to improving MR and PET diagnostic imaging. These diagnostic methods are crucial to ensuring that seriously ill patients receive the best possible treatment.

2019 also saw the launch of INSPIRE. The project lives up to its name, according to Minister of Health Bent Høie. INSPIRE is a historic collaboration between public agencies such as the Cancer Registry of Norway and 12 multinational companies to generate more knowledge about the use of medication among cancer patients in Norway. Both the Norwegian Cancer Society and the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Norway (LMI) are on board. We have reached a collaboration agreement that has been approved and signed by all the parties – one agreement, which makes it historic in itself. I hope the agreement can serve as a template and example to be followed by other health collaborations between the private and public sector. 

Clinical trials are important for Norwegian patients and an action plan for more trials is currently being drawn up by the Ministry of Health and Care Services. Certain hospital departments wish to spearhead this development, and, just before the New Year, the Division of Clinical Neuroscience at Oslo University Hospital held a seminar to demonstrate its expertise and infrastructure to industry in order to attract trials.

Inven2 plays a vital role in clinical trials as we are responsible for the contract agreements between industry and hospitals, and following up the financial aspects of the agreements. Inven2 carries out this work on behalf of all hospitals in the South-Eastern Norway health region, as well as the University Hospital of Northern Norway. We are involved in almost 85% of all new clinical trials in Norway. We are currently following up 409 clinical trials in progress.

One of the advanced trials Inven2 is currently facilitating is on a potential new treatment for the very rare disease Louis-Bar Syndrome. Eight-year-old Sander is one of five Norwegian children taking part in a trial being conducted at the Pediatric Clinical Trial Unit at Rikshospitalet University Hospital. Sander’s story really shows the importance of being able to offer clinical trials to patients without any other options.

Inven2 is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. We look forward to summarising the results we have achieved over the course of this decade. The value of our portfolio has increased by several hundred per cent in just a few years. Inven2’s patenting efficiency has, at the same time, led to the University of Oslo achieving a high ranking among the most innovative universities in Europe. We are on the right track. Norway needs competent and professional innovators more than ever before. Inven2 wants to make a strong contribution in this context. Evidence-based innovation generated by research provides the ideal foundation for ground-breaking technologies and products that are in demand in a global market.

2020 looks set to be an exciting year. I look forward to Inven2 contributing to even more products being commercialised based on the research of outstanding researchers and more clinical trials for the benefit of Norwegian patients. I look forward to following the development of each company, in particular the technology company Elliptic Labs and the cancer companies Ultimovacs and Vaccibody.

Inven2 was involved in starting Ultimovacs back in 2011, and was impressed by the company’s successful listing on Oslo Stock Exchange in 2019, despite the difficult market. See the NRK report on Ultimovacs here. Vaccibody is based on the doctoral work of Agnete Brunsvik Fredriksen in the laboratories of professors Bjarne Bogen and Inger Sandlie. Vaccibody is now worth NOK 5 billion and is a world leader in the development of Individually tailored cancer vaccines based on knowledge of neoantigens.

Have a happy and innovative 2020!